16th February 2019
Carles Puigdemont
Barcelona News Catalonia News Madrid News Main News

Puigdemont: trial a ‘stress test’ for Spanish democracy and judiciary

Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont has said that the high-profile trial that started today in Madrid of 12 ex-colleagues involved in a secession bid was a ‘stress test for Spanish democracy’.

It was also ‘a test for Spain’s judiciary’, he said in Berlin a day after attending a film gala along with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

Puigdemont, who left Spain in 2017 after leading a failed bid for Catalan independence, described his former colleagues on trial as ‘honourable, innocent, democratic people,’ and insisted there were ‘no criminal violations of the Spanish criminal law.’

In October 2017, independence leaders held a banned referendum that was marred by police violence, followed by a short-lived declaration of secession.

Carles Puigdemont
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont holds a press conference on 12 February 2019 in Berlin. (Odd Andersen / AFP)

Madrid moved in immediately, sacking the Catalan executive, dissolving the regional parliament, calling snap local elections, and taking direct control of the semi-autonomous territory.

Puigdemont left Spain for Belgium with several colleagues days later.

On Tuesday, the 56-year-old questioned why the European Union was ‘more concerned by what is going on for example in Venezuela than what is going on in Madrid,’ referring to the bloc’s decision to call for new presidential elections in that country.

There is an arrest warrant out for Puigdemont in Spain but authorities twice dropped a European warrant against him.

In July 2018, a German court declined to extradite him to Spain on a charge of rebellion, the same charge levelled at nine of those on trial in Spain.

Catalan Trial: click here full details of those accused, the charges, and the accusers.

Click here for all articles and updates on the Catalan Trial

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